Pissed Jeans move at their own pace. The grotty hardcore/punk act take breaks from recording whenever they need to – they spent four years out of the studio, for example, between the release of 2017’s Why Love Now, and the dark, menacing and deceptively-titled Honeys, dropped back in 2013.
Nonetheless, as far as the band are concerned, those gaps don’t even feel particularly long. And anyway, they’ve never considered themselves the type of band to go into hibernation – even when they are not churning out material, they don’t just disappear. They spent their four year recording sabbatical tending to the call of the open road, and for a while there, the band played as many shows as they ever have before. “For the last few years, we’ve been writing constantly,” says Matt Korvette, the band’s lead vocalist and primary lyricist.
“We’ve also never really stopped playing shows – it just becomes a little more selective, like maybe we’ll head out for two weekends of the month or something. I guess one of the reasons this record took a little longer than our others is the fact we became a little more selective – a bit pickier – with the ideas that we wanted to pursue.
“Brad [Fry, guitar] would write a riff or come up with an idea, but he’d scrap it if it sounded too much like an older Pissed Jeans song. Other times, the idea would be good but not something we were thrilled on. We wanted to make an album where every song was one that we could 100 per cent get behind. That was fine with us – we weren’t in any rush.”
Picking up where Honeys left off, Why Love Now continues the brand’s abrasive, abstract and angular take on noisy punk rock – further strengthening the core of what makes Pissed Jeans what they are. According to Korvette, Pissed Jeans aren’t interested in reinventing the wheel – just ensuring that they’re still running people over. “Our challenge every time that we make a record is to be a better version of ourselves,” he says.
“We always look at what we did beforehand, and we strive to make something that’s better. For me, that means writing lyrics that I think are interesting, or funny, or worth thinking about. I want the songs to be heavier, to be catchier, to be stranger. I just want to push the band to stronger levels. It gets harder and harder to do that the more albums that you make – and this was our fifth record. Even so, I think we did a really good job given the circumstances.”
Said circumstances were certainly helped by the company that the band – Korvette, Fry, bassist Randy Huth and drummer Sean McGuinness – kept during the making of Why Love Now. Not only does the album feature a spoken-word cameo from author Lindsay Hunter on the hilarious ‘I’m A Man’, the entire record was overseen by a unique production duo in the form of Arthur Rizk and Lydia Lunch. The former is a veteran of the underground metal scene, working with such delightful bands as Goat Semen and Cremation Lily, while the latter is a musician and poet who helped to pioneer the sound now known as “no wave” across her 40-plus years as a performer.
I just want to push the band to stronger levels.
“We’ve known Arthur since he was a teenager,” says Korvette of brining the two together to make Why Love Now. “We’ve always been friends with him, and he’s so technically talented – a real genius on many musical levels. Lydia is a life genius – an amazing person with so many skills and intuition; someone with great taste and style.
“It was great to combine the two – I wish they’d make a record together. Lydia was, admittedly, someone I didn’t know all that well when I reached out to her – it was definitely a risk, because I didn’t know how she would respond. You never know if someone will just be about the money, or only interested in their former glories. That wasn’t her at all – she was hilarious, really switched on and kinda scary. It made for a great combination.”
As for Hunter, the writer formed a connection with Korvette after the two expressed mutual appreciation of one another’s work. “I initially reached out to her to perhaps write something for the liner notes of the record,” he says. “I changed my mind after thinking that whatever she would have contributed might have been buried or ignored – no-one reads the liner notes anymore. I saw what she’d been working on and asked her to read it over this track. It came together so quickly, and we were so excited by it – I mean, I found it genuinely shocking. It was perfect, how scary it was.”
This December will see Pissed Jeans, at long last, making their maiden voyage to Australia. With headlining dates booked in to coincide with their appearance at the Meredith Music Festival, this long-overdue visit is one that’s hotly anticipated by long-time fans – as well as those recent converts who may have discovered the band through Why Love Now. “We’ve never been there before, obviously, so we’re just really excited to see everything and find out what you guys have to offer us,” says Korvette. “We were so happy to see such a positive response to the announcement that we’d be coming down your way, so hopefully the shows are just as exciting for everyone else as it will be for us.”
Pissed Jeans play the Oxford Art Factory on Wednesday December 6.